By Madeleine Rivera, ,
Published August 20, 2018
Like it or not, experts in the cryptocurrency industry say it isn’t going away any time soon, and as long as it exists, so does the need for cryptocurrency mining.
Crypto mining is a process that involves solving complex mathematical problems to validate transactions made with digital currency such as Bitcoin, Litecoin, or Ethereum. A ‘”miner” who solves a problem and verifies a transaction earns small amounts of cryptocurrency.
It is seen as an energy-intensive labor as powerful hardware is needed for computation, and those machines, which can quickly get hot, must be kept in air-conditioned facilities.
However, blockchain technology company TMGcore, says it’s utilizing a more energy-efficient way to crypto mine within a 150,000 square foot facility in Plano, about 30 minutes outside of Dallas.
“This project in particular is about expanding the bitcoin mining infrastructure here in America,” said Taylor Monnig, TMGcore’s chief operating officer.
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Monnig pointed to TMGcore’s Two Phase Liquid Cooling Immersion technology for its success. Instead of using air conditioning to keep equipment cool, the company immerses custom ASIC boards in 3M Novec, a fluorochemical coolant.
“We put these miners into the tank, we fill it with the 3M liquid product, the chips on the board boil, and as they boil, it keeps the chips at a consistent temperature, the boil then creates a vapor, which then we have these cooling coils…that connect to our cooling towers outside,” said Wiliam Hadala, TMGcore’s chief security officer.
The liquid is essentially recycled. Hadala said, “Water comes through the pipes and goes into the tanks, and the condensing coils then take the vapor and bring it back to a liquid form.”
The company said its technology dramatically decreases cooling costs by up to 90 percent.
“We’re in Plano, Texas right now, and the only time we’ll run air conditioning is June, July, August,” said Monnig.
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For the most part, large-scale crypto mining operations are located in regions such as northern China or Russia where temperatures are cool and electricity is cheap. Monnig said their system will now allow for crypto mining to take place anywhere in the world without sacrificing productivity. Their operation, a $77 million investment, will eventually be capable of drawing 100 megawatts. That’s enough to power about 50,000 homes.
Still, not everyone is convinced.
“The effort to mine bitcoin around the world is consuming fully one and a half percent of the electricity output of the entire United States and is approaching 0.5 percent of the electricity output of the whole planet. That’s an enormous number,” said Cullum Clark, director of the Bush Institute-SMU Economic Growth Initiative at the George W. Bush Institute.
Furthermore, as the prices of cryptocurrency continue to fluctuate, Clark wonders whether the effort to mine is worth it. Last week, the price of bitcoin fell below $6,000 to a near 2018 low.
“The market has been, if you will, oversupplied,” said Clark.
Clark added, “A lot of the cost takes the form of environmental damage from evermore consumption of coal and other materials it takes to generate electricity.”
For its part, TMGcore said it is planning to launch another mining pool called LEGACYII next year, which will solely use renewable energy.
Clark said for the industry to be sustainable, miners must adapt.
“We really do need to address this problem if the industry is going to have a future,” he said.